Addiction Help For the Homeless

by Odyssey House Of Utah Addiction Recovery Specialist

Homelessness is a serious problem in America. Without a better place to stay, thousands are forced to sleep beneath bridges or in abandoned buildings. The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that at any one time, there are more than half a million people living in the streets. There are a number of societal causes for the homelessness epidemic, but none greater than drug addiction.

A 2009 report by the National Coalition for the Homeless indicated that nearly 60 percent of all homeless people are dependent on drugs and alcohol. One of the reasons why some people remain perpetually homeless is that they’re unable to hold a job because of their addictions. Drug rehab isn’t always an option for people on the streets.


Addiction on the streets is a vicious cycle. Substance abuse leads individuals to lose their source of income, and perhaps the trust of their families and friends. Without any resources, they’re forced to live on the streets. Once they’re on their own without any sort of support network, their substance abuse problems tend to get worse.

Hungry, cold and frightened, even people who were previously sober turn to alcohol as a means of escape. Sometimes they’ll drink or take other depressants just to be able to sleep. Life as a homeless person is fraught with constant worry. Individuals don’t know where they’ll eat or sleep next. Everyone they meet is a potential harasser or thief. They feel constantly desperate.


Fortunately, some communities are finding ways to get their homeless communities into drug rehab. The Salvation Army has helped homeless addicts pay for rehab for decades. Their drug treatment centers offer help in many different American cities. Other communities have tried different, more innovative methods. 

Rather than requiring homeless people to be sober before finding a home, the Washington D.C. city council houses addicts first. With an element of stability in their lives, the formerly homeless individuals are in a better position to address their substance abuse problems. Such efforts can ultimately have a much greater impact in battling addiction.

Tanner Wadsworth is a health writer for Fusion 360, an SEO and content marketing agency. Information provided by Odyssey House. Follow on Twitter.

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About Odyssey House Of Utah Junior   Addiction Recovery Specialist

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